This is the frozen landscape we’re accustomed to, not the warm weather we’ve had till now. The nice thing about snow, cold, and ice is the starkness of the landscape. The trees are barer and the shrubs, bushes and stalks are completely gone. Everything is vastly simplified and you espy the contours of the hills and valleys, and the small tunnels in which creeks become rivers. You see the earth at its most basic, before the adornments of vegetation take over.
Sometimes I think that that’s my landscape too as I get older, not as full of things, activity, people, and travel. I had such an adorned landscape for my life, but now it’s rich in a whole other way. It’s just life, my life, and what’s up for me is how to walk the icy terrain in my old boots with yaktraks and not slip and fall. Be careful, yes, but watch the beauty around me and the races being run.
“Aussie, stop rushing into Henry and taking him down. He’s a quarter your size!”
“I love crashing into him, he doesn’t have a chance.”
“Auss, can’t you try a win/win situation?”
“Win/win? What’s that?”
“It’s where you and Henry win, not just you.”
“I prefer win/lose, because I always win and he always loses.”
“Why does one have to come at the expense of the other?”
“Because it’s more fun that way. I not only win, I also hear him whine when he hits the ground.”
“Only sometimes he cries out because you hurt him. And it’s not fair, Aussie, you’re bigger than he is.”
“Of course it’s fair. I run hard to beat him. You know how many squirrels I’ve shaken by the neck as practice to throwing Henry down to the ground? It’s dog-eat-dog out there, and I’m the one doing the eating.”
“But Aussie, you’ve also inherited certain ingredients that make you faster from your parents.”
“I’m a self-made dog. You’re a Communist.”
“Aussie, can you imagine a play situation where you both win?”
“How about you chase him without running him to the ground? Or you could slow down a bit, that way you’re still chasing him but you’re giving him more room to run.”
“What kind of challenge is that? The fun part is winning, always winning!”
“Oh Aussie, it’s so important to look at how to help others win, not just ourselves. And not just now, but across generations. That’s why the Native Americans talk about considering things down to the 7th generation before making any decision.”
“They’re losers, that’s why they talk that way!”
“In this competitive win/lose way of life, we’re all losers eventually, Aussie, it’s bringing us to the very edge. We commodify everything in order to win, and the riches we accumulate we leave to our children so that they have a big head-start over everybody else. It can’t go on this way, the earth won’t let us. Things are too fragile, we’re not living for the long run. At some point Henry will stop running, or else you’ll really hurt him one day and that’ll be the end of racing, except for our race to the cliff.”
“OK, I’ll give Henry a couple of licks to make him feel good, but I’m still going to win and throw him down on the ground.”
“It’s like saying we’ll race to the cliff in a nice way, help each other out a little, send aid to countries with famine and tanks to Ukraine, but we’re still racing to the cliff.
It reminds me of years ago when I lived in Manhattan right above the route of the New York City Marathon. Thousands of people would run uptown along First Avenue and I would join the crowd on the sidewalk, cheering them on, and people would run alongside the runners and hand them bottles of water to drink, trying to help the runners get to the finish line. Only our finish line is the cliff, and I start wondering if that’s what I’m doing, too, supplying comfort and help to the runners, only this is a race we’re all running, not to Central Park but to the very edge. Get it?”
“No, Quick, I’m off chasing down Henry. Save it for later, okay?”